Family Matters: You’re Never Too Busy to Eat Together
Written by, Ashley Paige
Let’s face it, we’re all pretty busy people. Busy parents, busy kids, sometimes being busy together, but mostly being busy with our own self-serving schedules. We as parents are dialed-in, over-worked, volunteered-out; dedicated to making sure we raise well-rounded, contributing members of society, a society that, to no surprise, glorifies busy, too often making it feel as if our worth is measured by our level of “busyness.”
The truth is, no matter how busy we think we are, we all have time for things that are important to us.
Growing up my family always ate dinner together. Always. Which in retrospect, makes me wonder how my mother ever did it. How she managed to be the class parent, the school board volunteer, the chauffeur between sports practices, the cheerleader at all our games and the maker of a delicious dinner on the table every single night. While I swear she had super human parent powers, she too clearly realized how important sharing a meal together was and so she made it a priority each night where the four of us came together and connected as whole.
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. I say it’s where my heart gathers. Although we may not make it to the table every night for dinner together as a family, we have, as a family, made it a priority to eat at least one meal together each day. Some days it’s during the breakfast hour that we gather around the table as a whole- on nights that we aren’t juggling a sports practice (or three), it’s dinner that brings us together. No matter when we come together, while it’s rarely Pinterest-perfect- juice is spilled, pancakes are burned and someone always has something less than savory to say about the menu- it’s always deeply savored.
Why? Because there is so much beauty in this mess.
Conversation is unpredictable. Tiny, raspy morning voices clamor to tell jokes, recant dreams and fight over the last cinnamon roll. Sometimes at the end of a long day we need an icebreaker to get the stories rolling but once we do, it’s even more difficult to get our boys to stop talking long enough to take a bite of food.
It’s our hope as parents that by sharing family meals, our boys understand that the kitchen table is safe space for them to open up and share their feelings. In a busy world with super schedules and the bombardment of technology at our fingertips, this screen-free zone allows us to come together as a whole, power down to connect and invest in ourselves as a family unit.
While I’m not saying a casserole has the powers to transform a family dynamic (wouldn’t that be amazing?), it’s the interpersonal moments shared among us over a meal that will hopefully create stronger connections between our family away from the table.
Dinner tables have always been the focal point of kitchens and ours is certainly no different. I have such fond memories of our kitchen table growing up- whether we gathered around it for family dinners, family game night or at the last minute to complete a school project the night before it was due, that table became synonymous with my childhood.
I want our table to be that same safe, remarkable space for our boys. I want it to be a place where they gather around to tell me about their school day. Their winning goals. Their science fair failures. I want them to bring their friends over, littering that table with pizza boxes and candy wrappers and one day, inviting their very first girlfriends over to join us for dinner at that table.
I know one day too soon I will miss this beautiful mess. The spilled juice, the food on the floor, the incessant reminders to use manners and clear plates but it’s these moments and all of the small moments in between that I am truly, deeply grateful for and it’s with gratitude and hope that I look forward to many shared family meals around our table to come.
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This article first appeared on I Love You More Than Carrots